Best & Worst: Exorcism Movies

Best: Beetle Juice (1988)

A bit of a cheat, admittedly, but the titular Juicemeister is himself an exorcist. Bio-exorcist, to be exact, contracted in by a pair of ghosts to rid their house of the pesky, unwanted humans who have taken up residence there.

The make-up won an Oscar, and Beetle Juice remains a career-defining moment in time for both director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton, the latter giving a bizarre but outstanding performance as the crafty, kooky haunter.

Worst: The Anti-Christ (1974)

Italian horror is usually dependably if prone to over-dramatics, but this two hour snorefest has not only a possessed girl who talks just like Linda Blair, but who also vomits green stuff all over the place. And it’s only been a year since Blair did it!

Obviously director Alberto De Martino hadn’t reckoned on the worldwide phenomenon that Exorcist would become, picking the flesh off its bones for a sub-par copycat effort.

Best: Repossessed (1990)

Ah, Leslie Nielsen. Back when he was spoofing with cut-glass wit and tongue glued to inner-cheek, the comedy clutz-king fashioned this exorcism send-up, replete with all the gags and gurns you’d expect (bed floating, cracks about PMS) and a few fun surprises – not least the inclusion of original Regan Linda Blair. It’s essentially an unofficial spoof sequel (spoofquel?) to the ’73 Exorcist , and Blair’s involvement only adds to the joke. Nice work, Nielsen.

Worst: Exorcismo (1975)

Spanish yawn-inducer that sees a very stupid young girl ‘unwittingly’ participating in a satanic ceremony (surely the goat sacrifice was a clear sign she wasn’t in the ladies’ room?). Consequently, she’s possessed by the spirit of her dead father, which brings up all sorts of odd incestuous allegories.

Except director Juan Bosch doesn’t care much for those, instead crafting a blow-by-blow rip-off of the ‘73 Exorcist . The lack of blood we don’t mind, but the complete absence of any narrative drive or believable drama signals Exorcismo ’s death knell.

Best: Dominion: The Exorcist (2005)

Butchered on its initial release, original director Paul Schrader was replaced post-shoot with hatchet-loving Renny Harlin, who re-shot Schrader's flick and released it as Exorcist: The Beginning . In a beautiful example of movie karma, Beginning was dumped on by just about every critic and audience member who sat through it – and received two Razzie nominations.

Not to worry - a year later Schrader’s original version finally burst into the light of day. Finally we saw what he had been brewing: a not faultless but still far-better-than- Beginning scarer that acts as a prequel to the ’73 film.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.